Letters: The Facts About Malpractice Lawsuits

Newt Gingrich and Wayne Oliver operate in the dark when it comes to the current state of medical malpractice litigation in Pennsylvania (“Toward a healthier economy,” commentary, April 7). They recklessly espouse an overhaul of the civil justice system, to the great detriment of injured victims, and incredibly contend that such an overhaul will cure the current economic crisis.

It is regrettable that Gingrich and Oliver didn’t take the time to carefully examine the facts, for if they did they would have learned the following about Pennsylvania:

Medical malpractice lawsuit fillings have declined by more than 40 percent. Jury verdict amounts have also declined.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has instituted rules that require that an attorney representing a plaintiff obtain certification from an independent medical expert that there is a genuine question of malpractice.

A lawsuit can proceed only in the county where the medical care was rendered.

The number of physicians has risen rather than diminished.

The cost for professional liability insurance in Pennsylvania has diminished rather than risen.

And the American Tort Reform Foundation, the nation’s most-recognized tort-reform propaganda outfit, has cited Pennsylvania as a “point of light” for its decline in medical malpractice lawsuits and physicians’ insurance premiums.

Gingrich and Oliver ignore the real issue, which is attaining safe, accessible, affordable health care.

Michael F. Barrett
Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association

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